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How to learn a language in hours, not years

| 106 comments | Category: positive mentality

I get told so many times that someone has been studying Spanish/French/Japanese/etc. for five, ten (or whatever) years. Despite this, in most cases, if they tell me how many years they have been studying it, it’s usually a precursor to “but… I don’t speak it!”

This is usually to justify how hard their language is, how stupid they are, or how the universe is against them and that they will never speak the language. If I plan to speak a language in just three months, they say that clearly it’s because I have some secret formula I’ve been hiding from you all, or it’s down to my superior language genes, right?

NO.

Once again this is due to a way of looking at their work and progress that I have to say is crap. It’s a grossly inefficient measuring system, and understanding that will help you see why you can’t speak your language despite “years” of work.

The quality of your “years” is pathetic

The title and idea for this post were inspired by Anthony Lauder’s video Become a polyglot in minutes not years. He explains it very nicely, but I am going to be much more frank, because I am sick of people telling me how many “years” they have spent to get no results and complaining about it. The problem is pretty obvious.

The idea is very simple – when you say you have “spent five years” learning a language (or doing anything for that matter), then I don’t believe you. No matter what you tell me you have done for five or whatever number of years, you are kidding yourself.

The only thing you have actually spent the last five years doing is breathing.



But perhaps in this time you have actually just put an hour every few days into studying your language. I did this myself – I “studied” German for five years but didn’t speak it after all that time. But then again, I was barely interested and gave it minimal attention. It’s amazing I passed my university entrance exam at all.

Maybe you were a more serious learner than I was and even spent an hour a day studying grammar, or several hours a day doing passive listening! That’s great, but it’s not good enough if you start talking about the long-term time investment you are actually making.

Thought experiment: Let’s measure your hours for real

If it were possible to measure work honestly, where actively speaking a language for an hour counts as a “real” hour unit, studying grammar would be 0.2 units etc. (you may disagree with this – that depends on your end-goals and mine is to speak). Then continuing from this, the unit also gets reduced if you are not passionate enough to put all your energy and focus into it (then passive listening would be worth 0.01 units in my opinion – i.e. something, but barely better than nothing).

Now add up your “hours” based on this new system, but actually counting the time you put in and you will see a dramatic difference. “Five years” of two hours of passive listening a day, four hours of grammar studying a week and two hours of actual practise with natives per month would give you about 364 “hours” (based on my weighted units) of genuine work. That’s fifteen days worth of work in your “five years”.

Sure, that’s fifteen days no sleeping and no eating. Add in eight hours to sleep, and three hours for eating and other activities per day (i.e. your “double time” job is just to learn the language) and it’s an extra twenty days. So your five years is about the same as someone exactly as intelligent as you are totally devoted to their task for a month.

In my experience this is closer to the truth than you might think – after a few weeks of total devotion, someone of average intelligence can reach the same level as (or usually better than) someone who has “studied” it for half a decade.

If I were to measure my original school German using a similar system, I’d probably arrive at a week of actual work after five years considering how little I really cared about my task.

Solution: measure your progress in devoted hours, not years

I’m not trying to tell you to quit your job and only think about the language whenever you aren’t sleeping or eating. That’s not realistic.

Even I’m not 100% devoted to my language learning tasks myself. I write in this blog in English, and have had many full-time jobs that don’t contribute to my language abilities, as well as exercising, travelling, making videos, partying etc. that don’t contribute to my mission, since life or your varied interests require you to do these things.

Despite this, I can tell you that successful language learners (not just me) are way more devoted than most people are to their language learning projects. The quality and devotion they put into their task is what makes the difference. They make sacrifices, accept making mistakes and embarrassment as an essential part of their journey, expose themselves to the language at every opportunity, and do whatever it takes to make progress quickly.

When you look at these people, it’s clear that the number of “hours” they put in, is way superior to the number of “years” other people do. This is nothing to do with having more time, it’s using their time efficiently.

This is why I can achieve what I do in three months.

My particular learning approaches and method help a lot, but the devotion is what makes it possible in such a short time. Being in the country isn’t the game changer either. There are plenty of expats that don’t care and make no progress after years of living among native speakers. In my first week of devoted and active learning, I usually overtake them simply because I look for any way possible to make it happen, rather than focusing on excuses why I can’t.

The good news is that when you think about the hours you have actually put in, you’ll see that you have achieved so much more than you thought you had. The example I gave above would give someone a pretty decent understanding and grasp of a language in a month of work, rather than five years. This is something to be proud of.

I may attempt to do it all in one uninterrupted go, but maybe now you’ll understand better why I am absolutely sure that everyone can become fluent in three months ;)

To learn a language in hours and not years, you have to count those hours for what they are worth and make them worth it. If you try to do the same, and realistically measure your true time and passion investment in your language learning project, you’ll see that maybe you are actually doing pretty well for the first “month” you have truly put into it. Now try to increase that devotion and see your next month of progress happen much quicker ;)

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How many hours of work have you put into your language? Let me know in the comments below!

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Comments: If you liked this post or have anything to say, please leave a comment! I love reading them :)
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  • http://joop.kiefte.eu/ Joop Kiefte

    I can only confirm your view with my experience.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Thanks – most successful language learners can :)

  • Stealthanugrah

    Go Benny! I really like your positive mental attitude even though it is and not realistic at the same time. Don’t take me wrong, haha. I’ve never disagreed with you once actually on all the articles I’ve read.

  • ap_w

    In retrospect, reading this makes me realise how little effort I actually put into language learning. I thought 30-60 minutes a day was a lot, but generally I spend most of that time reading and doing grammar exercises. Time for a new plan of action

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    The title is phrased in a way to sound incredulous, but the content of the post is very realistic. This is precisely why it takes many people “years” to learn a language in my opinion – because they simply DON’T spend years. My representation of their actual hours is way more realistic than theirs in my opinion.
    But I’m glad you enjoy the positive attitude ;)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Yes, while “something” is better than nothing, counting that something as equal hours to other more efficient ways of improving your level is misleading yourself ;)
    Best of luck with your new plan of action!

  • Paula Sjoland

    This is why I’m always embarrassed when anyone asks me how long I’ve studied french or german. Three or five years in school studying a couple of hours a week twenty years ago is not worth so much now. I’m still hoping to find the hours to reach fluency (at least reading fluency) in those languages, but so far I only seem to be able to get in a couple of minutes a day. Well, I guess that is better than nothing :)

  • Paula Sjoland

    This is why I’m always embarrassed when anyone asks me how long I’ve studied french or german. Three or five years in school studying a couple of hours a week twenty years ago is not worth so much now. I’m still hoping to find the hours to reach fluency (at least reading fluency) in those languages, but so far I only seem to be able to get in a couple of minutes a day. Well, I guess that is better than nothing :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    If someone asks you how long you have put into your French or German – give them the REAL figure. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about ;)
    Please read my post about finding the time and you’ll see that you can definitely do way better than a couple of minutes a day!

  • http://www.fluenteveryyear.com/ Randy (@Yearlyglot)

    I totally agree. It’s such a human trait to count your effort in years because it makes it sound so much bigger. I think it’s all part of the “poor me” mentality that leads to failure. Success is just a state of mind, and I think you point that out pretty well here, by showing a different — and successful — state of mind regarding investment of time and effort.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Well said” It’s definitely this “poor me” mentality to make the actual work put in sound bigger. It’s funny, but you rarely see successful language learners dwell on how long it took them to get to where they are. They focus on the task rather than irrelevant and inaccurate time measurements.

  • http://www.fluenteveryyear.com/ Randy (@Yearlyglot)

    Totally. And I think the typical “week” for a hardcore language-learner looks a lot different from a typical “week” for someone who fails.

  • Dominick

    Your picture in this article makes you look like a goomba from the Super Mario games. Sorry, but that’s what I see.

  • http://tomfrompoland.com Tom from Poland

    I spend too few hours as I would like. But almost my reading blogs or seeking information are in target language so I can probably add them to my “hours”. Most of all I miss talking with natives, I do almost in school for short times, I can’t couchsurfing natives unfortunately, living in small town where aren’t expats and tourists (except old German, before WWII inhabitants of my town). Making friend only via Internet is almost impossible in my opinion, I tried (ok, maybe not intensive as I may can) and fault yet. Many people learn English as me, but too few English speakers learn my native language Polish, so it’s hard to make a language exchange. I agree with you that speaking with natives is the best way to speak language, if you want to be good in something, practice it more and more. That is my two cents :-) (Trzy grosze – in Polish :)

    • Brianna

      Hi Tom,

      Have you tried making a profile at CouchSurfers? Or did you just assume that nobody would want to come? If it’s the latter, then I really recommend you give it a try! I live in a very rural area in the mountains of Japan. The closest big city is Kobe, about 2.5 hours away (and we’re on a different island, by the way, so it’s really expensive to get here from Kobe across the bridge). We don’t have anything famous or interesting tourist sites here. Everyone is old people, mostly farmers. Even most Japanese people don’t know this place, etc etc. But we tried making an attractive CouchSurfer profile about 2 months ago, and now we have so many travelers asking to come here that we can’t accept them all! You’ll be surprised how many people want to get away from the big cities and tourist traps and experience local, small town life. So far we’ve hosted 3 French, 1 German, and 1 Argentine traveler, and have had twice as many requests. Out of those people, only one could speak Japanese – for the rest of them, we spoke in their native language (if we knew it, English if we didn’t). So I think there are many foreigners who don’t speak Polish who will be interested in visiting your hometown! Just be honest on your profile and say, ‘If you speak [name of language], I would really appreciate help and practice with your language!’ Even though they’re not learning Polish, I think they’ll be happy to help since they’re staying at your place for free.

      Best of luck!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Tom, as I said in the post, I feel like the unit for exposure would NOT be the same as actively speaking the language. Reading blogs in your target language is a fantastic way to get virtually immersed, but thinking that all those hours would make as big a difference as speaking is another thing.
    English is such an easy language to find people to practise with that you don’t even need to do an exchange for Polish. Go into chat sites like chatroulette or join in on online discussion conferences to talk to random English speakers about specific topics. Usually finding people who aren’t even interested in language learning is fine – they are most likely to WANT to speak in English :)

  • http://tomfrompoland.com Tom from Poland

    Hmm, I will try chatroulette. My work colleague told me the same, he practice English with natives on chats during long nights (Americans) :-). Thanks for tip :-)

  • http://mituberraschungdesu.wordpress.com/ madokat

    Great blog post!
    and also, I just wanted to mention…
    For the fall 2010 school semester I decided to take a Vietnamese language class and because I’ve been reading your blogs for the past month, I got over the feelings of embarrassment when making mistakes. When I first took German, I would hardly speak after pronouncing something the wrong way because I felt stupid… but now, I keep repeating those vietnamese tone changes until I get it right! so yes, thank you! :)

  • Mike

    Two words: Daniel Tammet. He learned Icelandic in a week, which I thought it sounded absurd at first when I first read about the feat, but after learning the techniques that you posted on this site, and thinking about it some more, it makes perfect sense. It probably amounted to around 2 months if you study it for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Which would be well under 3 months ;-)

  • Judi

    I like it. I’ve “tried” to learn Hebrew for almost 6 years but I’m aware I only spent 5 hours every 6 months. So I know why I can’t say more than 2 sentences, and I regularly forget how to count -until I read my book again.

  • Judith

    …so you practice your new language with speaking it, right? Well, what do you do in moments in which you can’t understand a single word of whatever someone is telling you? I’ve been wondering about that all the time since I came to South America last month… I definitely had way too much of these moments :(

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Time to stop trying and start doing :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Exactly – he was an incredibly smart guy, but he used an excellent learning technique full time for 7 days. Doing that in itself is a rarity, even for someone of average intelligence…

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Your comment isn’t quite relevant to the post – I’m not talking about my speaking it from the start here – this is about a time investment and is independent of learning method in a way.
    So, coming back to the point – what do you do when you have these moments of not understanding? Do you keep trying until you do, or do you focus on how you have “too much of these moments” and get intimidated and stop trying? Your reaction to those situations will determine how they play out.
    I have frustrating moments where I don’t understand an entire sentence in Hungarian, and I don’t have similar words to fall back on like you would in Spanish. Despite that I just go on to the next sentence and try my best. At the end of the conversation I focus on all the progress I made, NOT all my misunderstandings. This encourages me and I’ll be even better next time.

    • Judith

      Well, you mention in every post that you focus on speaking, so I thought it wouldn’t really matter where to comment on it ;-)
      To make a comment on the “real” post content: ;-)
      Even though we’re living in South America, I think I’m actually not putting that much effort into learning Spanish… I’m with a friend and it’s much easier to ask her what someone said than just ask if he could repeat it in other words in Spanish… plus, I’m way too much surfing on non-Spanish web sites :D
      Still, it’s more than I would do if I wasn’t here, but I don’t think I deserve “full hours”…

  • Anders Carlos

    Well, it is all truth what you said. The unique thing about these hours is that the person has to be fully concentrated in learning. Even if I went to another country for 2 months, for example, to achieve high level of skills in this language, it would depend on my focus in learning. Even though people say I wouldn’t even improve a little bit, I could improve a lot if I focus.

  • Anders Carlos

    Well, it is all truth what you said. The unique thing about these hours is that the person has to be fully concentrated in learning. Even if I went to another country for 2 months, for example, to achieve high level of skills in this language, it would depend on my focus in learning. Even though people say I wouldn’t even improve a little bit, I could improve a lot if I focus.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    That’s fantastic! Thanks a lot for sharing :)

  • http://howlearnspanish.com/ Andrew

    Absolutely agreed, it’s all about the quality of the time you spend working on something. 10 minutes of speaking with a native speaker every day, consistently, beats the hell out of 2 hours a day of grammar study, every single time. The quality of the time, and your consistency, are what really matters: you must consistently invest a minimum amount of time doing something that’s actually effective at helping you learn the language, which will usually mean speaking with natives.

    I’ve been using language exchanges lately, and I’ll tell you, my Spanish has improved immensely; an hour a day with a native speaker will usually result in me putting 50 or 100 new words into Anki, for example. After I’ve had a bit more experience playing with these language exchanges and social sites like Badoo for the purpose of finding native speakers to practice with, I’m going to write a detailed, comprehensive, full-on post on how to do it.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  • http://tomfrompoland.com Tom from Poland

    Hi, Brianna :-)
    I created profile on Couchsurfing, but I didn’t active yet :(. I will try as you suggest to improve my profile, take more photos of my hometown and marketing it on Couchsurfing site. Thanks for your comment, can you send me a link to your profile for example?

    All the best
    Tom

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Glad to hear it Andrew! Looking forward to reading your thoughts on that.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Focus is everything. It multiplies the usefulness of an hour hugely.

  • http://www.trippingmom.com Marilia

    I´m teaching a second language to my 3-year old by speaking to her, like you do. I sing songs and I talk and I think she´s had some good solid hours of practice already.

  • http://twitter.com/natalie_ Natalie

    This is so correct. I’ve learned way more my second year of learning Russian than I did my first year because I’ve spent so much more time. It took me a year to realize that my methods of learning were not working and I was not putting in nearly enough time each day. But since I realized that, I’ve spent more hours each day and have improved a lot.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    That’s excellent!! Your daughter is definitely going to be bilingual if you keep that up :)

  • Morgan C

    I started learning Japanese this year at University, and its getting soo crazy to work on I just wish I could go over there now to practice. I have actually had the same experience as you, Benny. I lived in a small city in Sicily for 10 months a few years ago on student exchange, having only studied some bare basics in school, and felt very confident in speaking the language close to fluent in about 2 months. This might have been accelerated because barely anyone spoke English in Sicily (not even the police), I lived with a host family and went to their schools. I HAD to learn in order to merely communicate with anyone!

    So Benny, I completely believe in what you’re saying and doing in Hungary, and I hope to experience it for myself when I begin teaching English throughout Asia next year.

  • Goŝka

    the observation is so true! it’s like counting amount of what you’ve written. in poland, for example at schools they tell you “this essay must be 4 pages long”.. so you might work a several times more than someone else, especially concearning hand writing, right? I came across the method of counting words only when I was preparing for FCE, everybody had to get used to counting words, because it’s was so weird and boring ;).
    when I started to learn Norwegian by Pimsleur, I could give people the right amount of time that I’de devoted to it, as it was 10 lessons, o,5 an hour each, of listening and repeating a few times. so I could say “I’ve learned 5 hours” and not “a week/two weeks” that would be ‘true’ for someone that you’ve described.
    I promiss I’m going to say never again that I’ve learned a language x years :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MQTQVK3HM4JKKA7MX4T7EK7URE RabbitW

    I see it’s not enough to fail at “obtaining a C2 level” in Czech you have to fail at it in Hungarian as well… I actually admire that! True madness.

  • Patrick

    Is “speaking a language” defined as actual conversation; or would doing a 1 hr listen & repeat w/cd’s count as well?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      Mindlessly repeating what is said on CDs is NOT speaking a language in any definition. I’ve been going through the Pimsleur course that is based on this and will discuss it in detail on the blog soon. It has advantages but it also has huge holes.
      I’d give that about the same 20% mark of a useful hour as I would grammar. It brings you closer to the goal, but nothing is as good a substitute for speaking with a human being – even when done via Skype (before people start protesting about not being able to travel…)

      • Neil Gratton

        I’m a big fan of Pimsleur; I think it has a good place as a starting method to get good habits in pronunciation and structure. No, it can’t replace speaking, but it can lay down some great foundations. If you’re aiming for precise use of a language for professional purposes (rather than just being understood), I think there is a risk of picking up bad habits by just speaking that can take longer to under later.

        Also, what you learn with Pimsleur, because of the interval-repetition built in and the situational way of thinking, does tend to stick with you very well, even if not reviewed after the course.

        A couple of caveats to this are that my situation makes it work particularly well for me – I have a lot of daily time in the car when I can work with audio courses, and I’m aware that I’m a strongly auditory learner.

        (I don’t, and wouldn’t, use it alone, though – I use it alongside other methods, particularly after the first 15-20 or so hours)

  • schoenewaelder

    “…then passive listening would be worth 0.01 units in my opinion”

    That’s just being mean.

    Ok, I feel better now I can tell everybody I learned German in only 4 weeks, but what do I say if they ask what I’ve been doing for the other 4 years and 48 weeks?

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      Then tell them. You’ve been sleeping, eating, and speaking your native language :) THAT is how non-intensive learners are really spending their time.
      Passive listening (as I define it; i.e. not paying attention) is one of the most inefficient ways to fluency imaginable. 0.01 is GENEROUS in my opinion. Attentive listening and repeating would be worth more, and something I’ll discuss in more detail soon, but that’s still nothing nearly as good as conversing with a human being online or in person.

  • Jen

    I think some people truly believe that they’ve been putting in concentrated effort for 5 years (or however long) and don’t realize how fragmented their efforts have been. I just found out that my local library subscribes to Mango Languages (which isn’t the best in terms of conversationalism, but it’s not the worst either). One thing about Mango that I really like is that they keep track of how long you’ve been actively practicing using the program. Imagine my surprise, that after 4 lessons (mostly review for me), I had still only practiced for about an hour. It probably took me almost 10 “class hours” to get that far in Russian, so before Mango told me otherwise, I would have felt that I’d spent almost a week studying Russian, when really, I’ve only spent an hour. (By the way, you can learn a LOT in a concentrated hour–even with Mango! I’ve already picked up two or three new words and two or three new grammatical points from their beginner lessons. And this is after I spent “a semester” studying Russian at university and probably 2 weeks–actualy time–speaking in-country).

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

      Interesting that Mango actually measures that for you! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Camsham

    You have hit on the crucial aspect of why so many non-native English speakers have so much relative success versus those that are native when learning a foreign tongue…necessity. The fact that noone speaks or even “passively understands” their language (non-native English speakers) makes the motivation very high, as in survival can depend on being able to quickly utilise a target language.

  • http://beyondbounds.org/ Jason Sharp

    Great post! I just discovered your site, and I think it’s awesome. I’m an avid language learner myself (although I haven’t learned as many languages as you yet) and a translator. I agree that most people simply don’t put enough time into learning. They go to class for that one hour a day or 3 hours a week and think it should be getting them somewhere.

    I’ve also seen people who put in a lot of hours, but the pace is just simply too slow. There are plenty of people who take 2 years of university language courses (say.. Chinese), putting 15 hours a week into the language, but still come out empty on the other end.

    I think it’s not even the hours we put in, but how we put those hours in, and the how is more important. I agree though with all of your other points. Keep it up! I hope to be like you someday.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Glad to see that looking realistically at your progress can actually motivate you :) I’d rather people see it for what it is than simply dismiss the five years as a total waste of time.

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Thanks for your comment – great to see you noticing the difference!

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Glad you agree! I actually worked for Berlitz – I can’t say I’d recommend them for anything beyond business meetings, and even then it’s too expensive (and the teachers themselves don’t actually get much of that money!)
    Yay for immersion :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the language hacker

    Glad you agree! I actually worked for Berlitz – I can’t say I’d recommend them for anything beyond business meetings, and even then it’s too expensive (and the teachers themselves don’t actually get much of that money!)
    Yay for immersion :)

  • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny the Irish polyglot

    Yes, I think so too!

  • Kenneth Trent

    Great article! I read a book recently by a Forbes author (name is escaping me at present…Talent is overrated?) that expressed a very similar idea. Essentially he said that if you spent a considerable amount of time each week devoted to an activity, then after 10 years you would be among the top world-class performers of that task…which obviously isn’t the case with those who have “studied for x years” but still haven’t learned it.

    Additionally, I spent about 6 hours a day, 5 days a week trying to learn Spanish and found myself conversing fairly comfortably after about 2 and a half months. I find your perspective absolutely right – count the hours, not the years.

    My only other thought is that motivation is a deal-breaker when it comes to language learning. In my research I have found that motivation – and I mean real motivation, not just enthusiasm – was directly related to the rate of language learning. Highly motivated people learn languages much faster than those with low motivation. The trick is discovering that motivation within yourself.

    Thanks again. Great post!

  • Kenneth Trent

    Great article! I read a book recently by a Forbes author (name is escaping me at present…Talent is overrated?) that expressed a very similar idea. Essentially he said that if you spent a considerable amount of time each week devoted to an activity, then after 10 years you would be among the top world-class performers of that task…which obviously isn’t the case with those who have “studied for x years” but still haven’t learned it.

    Additionally, I spent about 6 hours a day, 5 days a week trying to learn Spanish and found myself conversing fairly comfortably after about 2 and a half months. I find your perspective absolutely right – count the hours, not the years.

    My only other thought is that motivation is a deal-breaker when it comes to language learning. In my research I have found that motivation – and I mean real motivation, not just enthusiasm – was directly related to the rate of language learning. Highly motivated people learn languages much faster than those with low motivation. The trick is discovering that motivation within yourself.

    Thanks again. Great post!

  • Kenneth Trent

    Great article! I read a book recently by a Forbes author (name is
    escaping me at present…Talent is overrated?) that expressed a very
    similar idea. Essentially he said that if you spent a considerable
    amount of time each week devoted to an activity, then after 10 years you
    would be among the top world-class performers of that task…which
    obviously isn’t the case with those who have “studied for x years” but
    still haven’t learned it.

    Additionally, I spent about 6 hours a day, 5 days a week trying to learn
    Spanish and found myself conversing fairly comfortably after about 2
    and a half months. I find your perspective absolutely right – count the
    hours, not the years.

    My only other thought is that motivation is a deal-breaker when it comes
    to language learning. In my research I have found that motivation – and
    I mean real motivation, not just enthusiasm – was directly related to
    the rate of language learning. Highly motivated people learn languages
    much faster than those with low motivation. The trick is discovering
    that motivation within yourself.

    Thanks again. Great post!

  • Kenneth Trent

    Great article! I read a book recently by a Forbes author (name is
    escaping me at present…Talent is overrated?) that expressed a very
    similar idea. Essentially he said that if you spent a considerable
    amount of time each week devoted to an activity, then after 10 years you
    would be among the top world-class performers of that task…which
    obviously isn’t the case with those who have “studied for x years” but
    still haven’t learned it.

    Additionally, I spent about 6 hours a day, 5 days a week trying to learn
    Spanish and found myself conversing fairly comfortably after about 2
    and a half months. I find your perspective absolutely right – count the
    hours, not the years.

    My only other thought is that motivation is a deal-breaker when it comes
    to language learning. In my research I have found that motivation – and
    I mean real motivation, not just enthusiasm – was directly related to
    the rate of language learning. Highly motivated people learn languages
    much faster than those with low motivation. The trick is discovering
    that motivation within yourself.

    Thanks again. Great post!

  • Helenaslovak

    How did you learn esperanto? did you do it online?

  • Will Cheatham

    This is common sense. Most people don’t learn much in all those years because they spend those years in school, during which time they’re also studying several other subjects, have tons of homework, are probably engaged in extracurricular activities, work, etc. You seem to blaming people for not learning very much. But people don’t deceive themselves into thinking that they’re trying their hardest to learn the language; they know it, it’s just not been made a priority to learn it at the time. People know they could learn it if they could focus intensively. So the fault rests with the ineffective nature of studying in a classroom without any sort of intensive focus or immersion, not, as you seem to be implying, with lazy people who give it a half-hearted effort. 

  • Will Cheatham

    This is common sense. Most people don’t learn much in all those years because they spend those years in school, during which time they’re also studying several other subjects, have tons of homework, are probably engaged in extracurricular activities, work, etc. You seem to blaming people for not learning very much. But people don’t deceive themselves into thinking that they’re trying their hardest to learn the language; they know it, it’s just not been made a priority to learn it at the time. People know they could learn it if they could focus intensively. So the fault rests with the ineffective nature of studying in a classroom without any sort of intensive focus or immersion, not, as you seem to be implying, with lazy people who give it a half-hearted effort. 

  • noll jya

    language : Korean

    :D 아무 언어로 쓰셔도 된다고 말씀하시는걸 보니, 한국어로만 코멘트를 남기는걸 더 좋아할 것 같아서 한국어로 씁니다.
    정말 공감되는 부분이, 10년도 넘게 외국어를 공부해도 정작 자기소개도 못하는 현상이 비단 한국의 문제만 아니었나보군요. 
    저도 외국어 학습법에 관심이 많아, (studying English) 많은 시간 영어로 된 영상들 (YouTube, movie, drama. etc)을 보고, 책을 낭독하고, 생각해 글로 써보고 말해온지가 1년째인데,
    학교에서 12년 가까이 영어 공부한 것 보다 더 효과가 좋다는걸 느끼고 있습니다.

    잘읽고 갑니다! thanks Benny!

  • http://www.facebook.com/3alamatniXXAl7yat Alhan Hyat

    I thank you, what you wrote, is very helpful and motivating, to not count how many years I spent learning a language, but how many “actual” hours I put into learning it, and how much I was passionate about it, and devoted to learn it. But I think, sometimes it depends on how popular this language is, if you’re not living in a country that speaking the language as their native. When it’s a language that some many people you know speak, and when it’s a language that no one around you speaks, it’s a matter of being able to practice the language and sentence you hear over and over again, becomes common to you and harder to forget, than sentence you never hear or never use!

  • http://www.facebook.com/yannick.decaterini Yannick De Caterini

    Hi there! I’m discovering this blog spending a week to go through, back and forth… First time I add a comment: I think I’ve got something that point out dramatically what you say here Benny! At school, I spent many years in english classes as my first foreign language (for the record, I’m french and after that I also “studied” spanish and german). Pointless to tell you how those years haven’t help me in any language! For fun, just know that I finally manage to get fluent in english in having a 6 months traineeship in Germany (within a US company full of foreigners) where nobody seems to speak local language!! Isn’t that silly… But that’s not the point I want to emphasis here… For exactly a year and a half I study Italian because of my grand-father’s origin. When I say “study” I mean I use a software of Anki’s type to memorize tons of vocabulary. I did it seriously for a year, had a slow down for 3 or 4 months and then go back to work until now that I manage to get back on my flashcards revisions… Using your mecanism of “how many time you really spend on your project”, I’m please to give below the statistics this software count for me:

    * you started 529 days ago,

    * you saw 1550 cards (“cards” means new words or phrases in italian obviously),

    * you have 1063 cards in your long term memory,

    * you learnt an average of 2.9 cards per day,

    * you revised an average of 6’35” per day,

    * you spent 13” per cards in average,

    ( AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST )

    * you spent 2 days 10 hours 4 minutes and 30 seconds in total.

    So Benny, when you write we can say we learn for years but it doesn’t mean we actually spend years dedicated to learn… You’re damn right!! ^_^ And just to tell where am I now with that: following your advice I’ve created an account on italki and I’ve FINALLY started to chat IN ITALIAN with people… It’s just amazing what I can say actually and I’m eager to start to speak using Skype or any other channel! Thanks a lot for the kick in the ass I definitely needed… ;)

  • Maddyhau

    I agree. I’m an exchange student in Spain, and before this I “studied for ‘4’ years,” in school. That being said, the first month here I couldn’t understand or say anything above “hola.” I don’t count those 4 years anymore.

    I’m in my fourth month here and though I wouldn’t consider myself fluent, I am proficient and speak pretty well. I can understand almost everything and get around using just Spanish every day. For me, fluent is getting a mastery of the language, not just being able to use it. I have a million gramatical errors, but I don’t let that stop me from speaking. The hardest parts for me are learning the verbs and the vocabulary. The most important part is the fact that I’m immersed most of the time. All my schooling is in Spanish and my host family doesn’t speak a word of English. I learn because I need to learn. I don’t have the option to use English. My fellow exchange students all have someone in the house that can speak English with them. Their level is improving, however, not quite as quickly as mine.

    The same goes for my English class in school. These kids have been studying English since they were three and their level is down right pathetic. It’s because the lessons are about grammar and no one has interest in learning it. The kids never talk, write or even listen to much English in the class. The teacher translates everything into Spanish so they will understand. In my four months here, I’ve overpassed their 15 years of English.

    Granted, I’m not totally immersed all of the time. When I’m on the computer, it’s in English, and when I’m with my exchange friends, it’s in English too. But it’s true, the more effort you put in, the faster you’ll learn.

  • http://twitter.com/DuoLingoDaily DuoLingo Mark

    I totally agree. I’m putting in 25 minutes of devoted energy each day. It’s already showing some real returns in just two weeks.

  • disqus_GKSEweYOlw

    good article. one mistake i found from “Sure, that’s fifteen days no sleeping and no eating. Add in eight hours
    to sleep, and three hours for eating and other activities per day (i.e.
    your “double time” job is just to learn the language) and it’s an extra
    twenty days. So your five years is about the same as someone exactly as intelligent as you are totally devoted to their task for a month.”

    extra 20 days?? doesnt add up right.

  • Rosa Ryhänen

    Wow, this is amazing! Besides my mother tongue Finnish, I’m learning English, Swedish, French and Spanish and I’m not even bilingual. I’m really going to try and make the most of your tips, thank you so much!

  • Sosan

    I’ve been learning Danish since last September, so it’s been 11 months. In the first four months I did about 4 hours a week of comprehension exercises, free writing, basic vocabulary and trying to imitate radio speakers (but not much speaking). After those ~64 hours, I could translate extended but simple texts into English and write about 600 words. I could understand most of what people wrote, but not what they said.

    In the 7 months after that I only did about 2 hours/week of mostly listening comprehension. Although I feel I can speak with good pronunciation now, my ears haven’t tuned in to the language enough for me to understand regular conversation (or the radio!).

  • Karl Reichenbach

    You have a very shallow definition of “fluent”, as is the case with a lot of people. For you, fluent means a basic understanding of basic grammatical structures and some basic vocabulary. You still are nothing close to a native’s level in terms of vocabulary size, (for a native, 20,000 root words roughly, not including vital knowledge like compoud words, expressions, cultural references, and slang), ease of use (your ability to just breath in the language and have advanced sentences that reflect exactly what you want to express just come out without even thinking about it, as well as your ability to recognize and understand advanced sentences spoken with the rapidness of a native speaker). All of this is completely unattainable within the time span of 3 months, even if you do nothing but practice and sleep. If acquiring a basic understanding of many languages instead of excelling in one (or a few, if you’re hugely dedicated) is your thing, then fine, but I think it’s a little lame to call that “fluent”. Try watching a film without subtitles, you’ll have to stop it every 30 seconds to replay parts, some of which you’ll never get until you put on subtitles. I’d be willing to bet you’re selling something.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      Read the post, and comment relevant to the post please. No completely irrelevant rants in future. This post doesn’t discuss fluency.

      The only paragraph relevant to this post was your last one. The rest was pure drivel.

      I wrote this post for people with your “native equivalent” attitude: http://fi3m.com/elitist/

      • Karl Reichenbach

        I’ll post this on the other blog post if you want to answer it there.

        This probably all comes down to semantics. I just don’t think you should qualify yourself so easily as fluent. You describe getting by okay as fluent.

        I’ve responsed point by point to the bullet points in your post. Most of them had you claiming that because you can’t do certain things in English as an excuse for being incapable to do them on a larger level in the foreign language. But the reason you were unable to do so in your native language is not due to lack of proficiency, it’s just due to your own mental capacities or lack of specified knowledge that is not different from many other native speakers. But these types of situations would be vastly most numerous if you tried to use a language you had only been learning for a few months, and all of these would be due to lack of language proficiency. Even relatively uncultured natives of the foreign language would far surpass you in their ease of communication, and this if you were an intellectually active person. For instance, go watch like Jean de Florette in French without subtitles or something. Those Provencal farmers aren’t sitting around discussing philospophy either, but after 3 months of French you would be lost in the rapidity of fluent native communication. Again, no French native would have trouble understanding the kind of language used in a film like this, but someone only learning for 3 months would be pretty lost in most of it.

        Point by point:

        – Of course, all native speakers hesitate. But those hesitations happen because we are not sure what we want to express, or at least the concepts we are trying to express are so nuanced that we have trouble even in our native language. But someone with only a few months worth of experience in a language will have major hesitations way more frequently and frequently won’t be able to fully recover and will just have to settle with expressing themselves in a less full manner.

        – Having a discussion of philosophy is something only someone with exposure to that subject can do, which is not a pre-requisite to being a typical fluent speaker.

        – Again, the complex level of English you are talking about here is not what I am talking about. The way you and I are writing right now is the level of complexity of a native speaker. Someone with 3 months experience would never be able to write like this without needing to frequently pause and either A consult a dictionary or B settle with something other than what they were originally going to write.

        – Of course there are cultural and linguistic misunderstandings even between native English speakers. They are way less frequent than those that will occur between a native and a foreigner.

        – Of course there are thousands of words a native speaker won’t know of their own language. However, there is a certain pool of a good few thousand (as in, around twenty) that just about every native will know and be able to use rapidly and understand rapidly. If you are a learner and you don’t know these words, you will be frequently left confused and you’ll have to ask them to re-explain themselves. Is there anything wrong with that if that’s what you’re happy with? No, of course not. Should you call that fluent? I don’t think so.

        – The difference between you’re and your are things that most people should know, but if you don’t know it only means you have a lousy conscious understanding of your native language. But that’s not what really matters, what really matters is your subconcious ability, because language is just the interface through which are thoughts are expressed. To speak fluently you should be able to use it as the framework of your thoughts themselves, rather than the thing you try to translate your thoughts into. You don’t need to consciously know the difference between its and it’s to do the former.

        – Again, that’s not an issue due to language proficiency, that’s an issue with your own intellectual faculties.

        • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

          PLEASE stop copying and pasting the same comment across multiple posts. This comes across as very spammy. I’ve had to delete your numerous other posts because I’ve already approved the same text once already.

          I have diplomas in language competency, worked as a professional translator and have hundreds of videos where I demonstrate my language skills, so I know quite a lot about the subject. But of course people are welcome to disagree with me.

          If you define fluency as mastery in the language then fine, but this is NOT how most people understand it. I talk about this subject with normal people, not with elitists who demand nothing but native equivalence. My understanding of fluency is B2 and above on the CEFRL level. You seem to define it as C2 (which I have in Spanish and French for instance), and for me this is well beyond fluency and totally unnecessary for social purposes.

          If you disagree with the dictionary definition of fluency as “used easily and accurately”, which is precisely what you can do at B2, then that’s fine, but don’t expect others to follow suit.

          • Karl Reichenbach

            Chill bro. There’s probably thousands of posts on this site, is one or two extra going to really crowd your site up that much?

            Working as a translator is not the same as being fluent. As a translator, you have access to down time, dictionnaries, research materials, and above all, you are translating text, not trying to decipher the rapidity of daily conversation. I don’t care what pieces of paper you have acquired. I’ve listened to your French and it’s not anything like a native’s skill or like the skill of someone who has lived in a francophone country enough to acquire that level. That’s not an insult. Learning a bunch of languages to a basic level is really cool, if that’s what you’re into. You can communicate on a basic level with practically the whole world. But I think it’s crazy to say you’re fluent in all of those languages. Fluent implies ease of use of a native. I’m not talking about advanced vocabulary. I’m talking about pretty basic stuff like “ballotter”, “envenimer” “mansuétude”. Those are pretty basic words that natives would recognize instantly, but a 3 month learned probably won’t know either of them, and certainly won’t be able to recognize them at the speed of a real native conversation.

            I don’t define fluency as mastery of a language, I just define it as native level of ease in contexts that normal people do things in. I didn’t say complex discussions of the newest findings from the Hadron Collider. I said situations normal people find themselves in. If you can express yourself with the same level of proficiency and the same ease as a native, and understand in kind, then that’s real fluency. Otherwise, you have a knowledge of the language, maybe a pretty good one, but not fluency.

            Again, yes, the definition of fluency is easy of use. But that doesn’t work very well as a definition in and of itself for language learning because of the nature of languages. Languages are very simple really, they’re just big. Basic grammar would be taught in an instant: I like cats. I is the subject, like is the verb, cats is the noun. Once you know the meaning of those three words you just became fluent. With three words. So yeah, I could repeat that sentence all day and call myself fluent, but I wouldn’t exactly be versatile. In the same way, I think a good definition of fluent should mean being fluent not just in a small sphere but in all the places normal people find themselves. At that point you can fluently communicate like a normal person. But if you don’t know crap like “bleu-bite” “brouter” (randomly off the top of my head, two basic terms everyone in France would know) then you’ll be left in the dust during a lot of conversations. In other words, you’ll only be “fluent” in the narrow context of slow, basic conversation. And yet normal, not necessarilly intelligent, native speakers definitely don’t limit themselves to that.

            So for that last, time, no need to respond if you’re just going to say that our definitions of fluent differ, because I guess they do, but with all due respect I think my definition makes a lot more sense.

  • http://frenchtogether.com/ Benjamin

    All you write here is quite true from my experience. I spent 6 years learning German at school and could barely introduce myself. Then I went to Korea not knowing Korean at all and learnt more Korean in six months there talking to people all day than I learnt German in 6 years. It’s not about how many years you spend, but how much you want to learn and how much you speak.

    What is funny is that people always think you either need to have some kind of gift or absolutely need to be in the country. I often hear “yeah but you were in the country it’s different”. It helps for sure, but truth is, learning a language is all about motivation not about where you are or how much time you spend doing useless things.

  • Emilie Noel

    when i learned french i learned it in school, and after a while it was really just practice and review of the things id forgotten how to do, like certain past tenses no one really used, and it when i decided i wanted to learn another language i found myself wishing i had a specific curiculum to follow since i couldnt remember how i learned it the first time, and what kinds of things we learned first besides the obvious hello and thank you

  • Behnam Nikkhah

    Good post. Thanks.

  • http://www.teenjazz.com/ Shannon Kennedy

    “I look for any way possible to make it happen, rather than focusing on excuses why I can’t.” I think this is one of the best quotes in the entire article. When I was learning my second language I strove for perfection, avoiding using it until I thought I knew enough to use it. Needless to say, I didn’t arrive at that point until I was put in situations where I had to use it. It was uncomfortable trying to string things together while hoping I made sense, but in hindsight, the amount of time I felt that way was relatively short.

  • لانا القمند- Lana Kamand

    Ouff, i just came across this post, I am really late! I think you have a point there, I have been TRYING to learn German for the past 3 years, but apparently I have been kidding myself. it is has been a few weeks that I really decided to take it seriously and make some progress. I actually came to think that maybe I am dumb and not good for learning a new language. My goal is to learn now to speak it fluently by the end of this year. Thanks for the post.

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  • Jackson Rosembach

    During the last six months, I invested about 50 hours in my language learning project based on your weighted units.

  • Aims

    This is really useful! I’ve dropped all language subjects now I am starting my A-levels, but want to study Swedish in my spare time. Obviously, due to my school work I can’t spend hours every day working, so progress will be slow, but I think it will still be faster than my progress in languages was when I was doing my GCSEs.

  • feliciango

    Thank you so much Benny , i’m vietnamese . I can use and translate your post and your tedx video into vietnamese on my Facebook to share my friends ?

  • jason

    my year of 2013 was a year of learning, crash course in life, but I did so much more than just learn…..

  • Lina Johansson

    I know exactly what you mean! I did the same and ‘studied’ spanish for 6-7 years in school, and while my grammar was quite okay I didn’t speak much at all. After spending 2 months in Spain as an au pair listening and speaking spanish most of the day every single day I was almost completely fluent!

    And although my spanish probably helped, I have now studied french for 1,5 years of university and I’m at the same level as my spanish was after 7 years. I still have quite a while to go but I am constantly trying to find more ways to incorporate french into my daily routines :)

  • Consuelo & Beverly

    You’re right in putting time and devotion into language learning. You gotta make it part of your daily life

  • http://jefmenguin.com/ Jef Menguin

    Thanks for sharing this. I was approached by a foreigner who wants to learn Filipino is six months.

  • Amy Comber

    I’m 11 and I started learning Italian last year on and off about 30 mins a day, because I had school, homework and other commitments. I’m going to secondary school in September and that’s longer hours, more homework and more commitments. Do you have any advice what to do when I don’t have much time on my hands and I’m going on trips to Italy in a matter of months.

    • twelfthnight

      You’re 11 and you were able to comment more articulately and with far better grammar than people twice your age. I think you’ll be absolutely fine. If you’re 11 and going to secondary school (I’m assuming you’re skipping a few grades?) then you’ve probably got more than enough of what it takes to learn something quickly.

  • Scott

    Excellent. Exactly what I was thinking about. Thank you.

  • Peter Little

    Great post Benny! I’ve done about 80 hours of effective mandarin this year, and I can say its really, REALLY, helped my communication out here. I’m interested though, can anyone tell me if there is any store behind the FSI language difficulty ranking- it states 2200 hours to get to Speaking level 3 in mandarin!!? Is that right! If so I feel a bit demotivated. Does anyone know about this- how does it actually compare to the European framework of fluency?

    • http://fluentin3months.com/ Brandon Rivington

      It’s tough to make the connection between the FSI scale and the CEFRL scale but given the FSI’s description, it seems like it would measure up to B2/C1. However, in my opinion, this 2200 hours is quite extreme. That’s about five hours of study *every day* for well over a year. Even more manageably, you’re looking at two hours of study everyday for over 3 years. I find these numbers ridiculous. I think they were created before the internet age (and therefore before the age of infinite resources) and have not been updated since.

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  • ROMO

    Hi Benny , I found your Ted talk extremely encouraging thanks – I am currently learning a language and was wondering how much time a day is ideal ? At the moment im doing just one hour but its a good hour not a half arsed hour ( I agree with your article above completely ) should I be doing more or does ones brain only absorb so much in a day ? thanks

    • http://fluentin3months.com/ Brandon Rivington

      The more exposure you have to a language, the further you’ll progress. Your brain doesn’t really have an absorption capacity for your learning so don’t worry about that. Obviously it’s not feasible for people to study a language every waking moment of every day. There’s no magic number of hours in a day, but I’d say in a perfect day, you should study as much as what’s comfortable. Like you pointed out, good study is better than longer, half-assed study.

      • ROMO

        Thanks Brandon

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  • G. BethEl

    So I have been interested in learning new languages, and like most wanting to learn a as quickly as possible I was googling every secret and short-cut on learning new languages. I quickly learned that there is no short-cut,only incorrect ways the learn, in the process of looking for short-cuts I was also looking for easier ways to learn, after a few minutes of searching I kept coming across references to an app called “duolingo” so a downloaded it and I have now had it for a at least 3 months and it is a fun game and I learned some sentences and I can understand 5 words out of 15 in a a common Spanish conversation but I can’t really speak as well as I would like to in the time I have been spending using this app, and considering I would like to learn 6 languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French,Russian,Norwegian and Hawaiianand maybe Gaelic) fluently before I’m 16 I figured using an app was definitely not the way to do it. As a someone extremely interested in learning different languages I am finding your website very helpful and very interesting to read. After a few months i started doing the math and I realized… If you can fluently speak a language in 3 months and I want to learn 6 in 3 years, I have just the right amount of time to learn all 6. which has gotten me even more exited and it made me so happy I found your website! So I’m planning on spending some serious time learning and practicing speaking these languages and hopefully I will reach my goal. Thank you for taking the time to read my comment (really really long) comment:) and I would be so happy if I could get some tips on learning! Thanks for reading again!

    • http://fluentin3months.com/ Brandon Rivington

      You know what? I think you’re wrong. (Now isn’t that a fun way to start a reply!) I think there are definite short-cuts to learning languages and that this blog is a prime example of many of those short-cuts. Speaking from Day One (www.fi3m.com/tedx/) is a awesomely fast way to learn a language. Don’t get me wrong though, you’re right in saying that there’s a lot of hard work that needs to go into learning a language. However, that hard work can be fun and fruitful!

      Don’t tell yourself that you’ll hopefully reach your goal. Go reach it! Quite often, many people study a language for a while and feel confident. But when they are put in a position to speak, they drown. This is because many folks don’t put the necessary focus on speaking when they’re learning! If you try out places like Conversation Exchange, italki, or Couchsurfing, you can find thousands of people to talk with! I don’t matter if you don’t speak a lot now, practicing is the most important!

      Recently, one reader was learning Esperanto and happened to find me on Lernu.net (a site for learning the language). He wanted someone to speak with so he could practice. Our first conversation “completely in Esperanto” was almost completely in English because he had no vocabulary. I told him that he needed to get at least the basics down if he wanted to speak and his response was that he had never been all that good at grammar. I told him to forget the grammar. Speak like Tarzan! Just practice some words, build a vocabulary, and we’ll move from there. Now, we’ve had two conversations since and the last one was 20 minutes completely in Esperanto!

      All you need to do is speak :)

  • Ethan Mitchell

    I have been practicing for 2 hours a day and i speak to my mother in spanish (she is learning with me) whenever I can. You are right though. If someone is devoted to doing something, it will come a lot faster than not caring that much.

  • Jennifer Herndon Garrison

    French Creole- I want get it down by February 2015- where is the best place to start- I can read Spanish and understand some- pretty comfortable speaking enough to get by once I am surrounded by it for a few days-
    I know NOTHING about French- nothing! Can you recommend an online program that doesn’t cost too much? Thanks!

  • helena

    awww its really nice
    , it’s very realistic…I’m still being not fluent in English but I practice all the time, also more than my own language and I’m notice the difference.
    Thank you for the article.

  • Stephen Brew

    I recently downloaded the ispreadsheet app and I’ve been diligently keeping track of the hours spent learning Spanish. 45 hours in, I feel like I have enough of a command of the language to actually express some of my own ideas instead of simply regurgitating phrases from the book. Keeping track of hours allows you to keep stats on your progress.

  • Alan Dingwall

    Hey I think this post is great. What I’m doing is I’m learning my French for 1 hour a day. I’ve been doing it for 2 days and I’ve already relearned what I did in school, but had forgotten. I haven’t relearned everything, but I have the French Alphabet down and I have around 35+ numbers down between numbers 1 – 50.

    I’ll be doing the numbers again today, but then I’m moving on to other things within the language. I’m interested in doing a Italian course during the evening at University so I have just under 3 months to learn.

    At the moment I’m concentrating on the pronunciation and the speaking part of the language because I think I’m pronouncing some of the stuff wrong. This is some great advice though. :)

  • http://br.linkedin.com/in/engbrandl/ Edenilson Brandl

    When I was in Ireland I spent all year 11 hours per day learning English, I had a table with exercises to do every (!) day. When I arrived there I my English was nothing. And afther that time (1 year) I could archieve 725 points on Toeic test.